What the Bridal Veil Symbolizes

Find out the history of the wedding custom

By Jen Whitten

Bride and groom kissing under the veil
Photo by David BrachoBookmark and Share

The wedding veil is a popular headpiece brides wear during the ceremony. The bridal veil symbolizes many things, even though the modern bride treats it as an accessory.


In ancient cultures, a bride wore a veil for protection against dangerous sand storms and evil spirits that could cause her harm. From a practical perspective, the wedding veil kept the groom in an arranged marriage from looking on his bride's face until after he had taken his vows.


Bridal veils symbolize purity and innocence. Because only first-time brides are virgins, tradition dictates that brides do not wear a veil for the second marriage.


When the groom lifts the veil at the end of the ceremony, it symbolizes that he has taken over for the care of his bride. A modern bride may lift her own veil to symbolize that she is giving herself away as an equal partner in the marriage.


The common elements of the wedding veil also have origins steeped in tradition. The choice of a lace veil over more common tulle represents wealth, as does the tiara.


Although the white wedding veil is a modern tradition, white was not always the color of preference. Christians in the Renaissance era preferred blue, while ancient Greeks chose fiery shades of red and yellow.

About the Author

Jen Whitten is a freelance writer and worked in the event and wedding planning fields.

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Wedding Glossary


The most formal of veils, also known as a royal veil. Standard length is 108 inches; the veil extends onto the floor.

View the Full Weddings Glossary
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